Date: Jun 20, 1995 1:34 PM
Author: Eileen Schoaff
Subject: dropped topics
I am new to this forum and have been reading with interest some of the

debates. I have taught everything from 6th to 12th grade school math,

and at 40 quit my job to get a PhD in math education. I now teach college

math and pre- and in-service teachers. I have a minor in English lit

and a sister who is a college prof in English lit.

Obviously, we type to fast to consider our grammar and spelling -- so

maybe there is something to whole-language. I insist my students word-

process all papers and spell-check. Most kids who teach themselves to

read do so starting with phonics -- sounding out the letters. They

quickly move to whole-word recognition, or they would never become pro-

ficient readers.

Now to the math. Once you get out of grade school, answers become too

complex to have to first figure out the appropriate name for 32756.3245.

If a student reads off the answer as thirty-two thousand, seven hundred

fifty six and three thousand two hundred forty five ten-thousandths, then

both the student and I have wasted time. First the student wasted time

counting off place values to figure out what to say, and then I waste time

interpreting. 3-2-7-5-6 point 3-2-4-5 is much clearer. What have we lost?

Should I infer that the student does not understand the number?

Granted students have poor number sense as to the size of numbers. So

do most adults. Just how much money is the National Debt? Who do we

owe it to? Why do we need to pay it off? If it were in $1 bills, how

big a room or building would it fill? If I were to fill my classroom,

what denomination bills would I need?

Does point-4-5 really indicate that students don't realize that this

means 45/100? If they were asked to write .45 as a fraction, nearly

everyone can write it as 45/100, which indicates that they do indeed

know the place value. Yes, students should be able to read forty five

hundredths -- but sometimes point-4-5 is clearer and more expedient.

Aha! paragraph 2 contains a grammar error.

Eileen Schoaff